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Dr. James Rakocy Lectures on Aquaculture in Washington, D.C.

UVI Agricultural Experiment Station Director Dr. James Rakocy gave a presentation on aquaculture in Washington, D.C. earlier this month at an aquaculture summit sponsored by an organization called Food & Water Watch. Only 12 researchers were invited to give presentations at the summit, which was held Jan. 12-15 to explore technologies for producing seafood in recirculating aquaculture systems. Dr. Rakocy is recognized as a world leader in the field of freshwater aquaponics science and technology.

Aquaponics combines aquaculture and hydroponic technology in a recirculating system, in which fish are raised intensively in tanks. Waste from the fish tanks continuously circulates through hydroponic beds where nutrients from the fish are used to grow vegetables. The vegetables purify the water, which is returned to the fish tank.

"The audience of fellow researchers and other invited guests was very impressed with the capacity of UVI's aquaponic system to produce huge amounts of high quality fish and vegetables with minimal water consumption," Dr. Rakocy said.

Aquaculture in recirculating systems is being viewed as a means of reducing seafood imports to the U.S. and ensuring seafood safety. The U.S. imports 80 percent of its seafood, 10.7 billion pounds, from overseas.

The University of the Virgin Islands annually hosts a week-long course in aquaculture technology, which is attended by academics, farmers and entrepreneurs from around the world. A total of 362 students from 37 states in the U.S. and 44 countries have attended the course during the last 10 years.

Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works with grassroots organizations around the world to create an economically and environmentally viable future. Food & Water Watch will use the findings from the summit to produce educational material for the public, as well as to lobby Congress to increase funding for the research, development and commercialization of recirculating aquaculture systems.

Dr. Rakocy said, "I was very gratified to see that research conducted at UVI is recognized by Food & Water Watch as an important contribution to the solution of a serious national problem."

For information about UVI's aquaculture program, please call Dr. James Rakocy at (340) 692-4031.